Enrollment is open for the Call Me MISTER program at Northwestern State University, an initiative aimed at recruiting African American males to be teachers and mentors, particularly at low-performing schools. The first cohort of students will begin the program in the Fall 2020 semester.
Call me MISTER (Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models) was founded at Clemson University in 2000 to address the critical shortage of minority male teachers in America’s classrooms. Student participants are largely selected from underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged and educationally at-risk communities.
Northwestern State has a rich legacy of teacher preparation and is proud to partner with Clemson University to fulfill this goal, according to Ramona Wynder, program coordinator.
“Only two percent of America’s public school teachers are African American men, according to the U.S. Department of Education, but there is a place for African American male teachers in our schools and classrooms,” Wynder said. “African American men need to be viewed in positive contexts. What better place for that to happen than in our schools? This program has the potential to change lives.”
Antavious Roberson is a 2018 graduate of Northwestern State and is currently the fourth and fifth grade math teacher at Crawford Elementary School in Arcadia, his hometown. He said his students definitely react differently to him than peers because a young African American man teaching elementary school is not the norm.
“Typically, students matriculate through grade school not ever seeing a male in the classroom,” Roberson said. “They’re more conditioned to seeing them in administrative roles such as a principal. The impact that I have on my students is quite noticeable. My students are more engaged and motivated about the material that I present to them. They’re more eager to listen and do as they are asked.”
Roberson chose to pursue education as a career because of the influence of two African American teachers.
“Prior to my sophomore year of high school, I had never had a black male teacher. Being able to see someone that not only looked like me, but came from the same circumstances, influenced me a great deal to choose teaching as a profession.”
Applications for Call me MISTER will be reviewed on a competitive basis each spring for consideration for cohorts that will begin each fall semester. Preference will be given to graduating high school seniors; two-year community college transfers; and first-year college freshmen. Eligible candidates will be selected based upon their potential for teaching and their motivation for participation in the program.
Prospective Misters must be a minority male and come from an underserved, socioeconomically disadvantaged, and/or educationally at-risk community. They must major in Early Childhood Education, Elementary Education, Health & Physical Education or Music Education and demonstrate record of high scholastic achievement and participation in extra-curricular and community service activities.
Misters will benefit from financial assistance to help cover tuition and fees, instructional support and preparation for licensure exams, a cohort system for social and cultural support and leadership development. They will gain immediate exposure to a classroom environment and job placement assistance after graduation.
“Research shows that teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color,” Wynder said. “Increasing teacher diversity is important for closing achievement gaps.”
“The people who have inspired me as a student, and as a teacher are Cynthia Mason, my fourth grade teacher; Christopher Jackson, my 10th grade English teacher, and Dr. April Giddens, NSU College of Education. Those three phenomenal people have all instilled in me what it means to be an educator, and I thank them for that,” Roberson said.
“What I would tell my peers who are looking to pursue a career in education is to be the teacher or person that you needed when you were their age,” he added. “The students are looking to find some part of themselves in you. They want to know that you care about them. Once you show them that you have their best interest at heart, they will perform for you.
For more information or to enroll in Call Me MISTER, contact Wynder at (318) 357-4549.